Thanksgiving weekend, that “end of summer ritual” which seems so very far away when we are immersed in planting and preparation for the growing season sneaks up on you! Can it be here already? Another growing season, the hopeful time of putting seeds in the ground, the hard labour of harvesting in the summer sun, suddenly (it seems…) coming to a close.
The tradition of setting aside a time at the end of harvest to reflect on all of God’s blessings and celebrate together with thanksgiving goes back to the earliest days of settlement here. Our pioneer ancestors had very few back up options for feeding their families through the long, cold Canadian winter. Imagine being dependent for your survival on the successful harvest of corn, potatoes and other staples. Living in such close dependency on the “fruits of their labour”, without a nearby supermarket just down the road, these people could not escape the reality of their interdependence with nature. Rain when needed was not just a pleasant break from dry days, but could make the difference between having lots of food stored for winter or scraping to get by. A late frost could mean no fruit that year. Life was filled with daily experience of working hard to make good use of whatever resources were available and then hoping that the forces beyond human control would cooperate to produce a successful outcome. So when October rolled around and the cellars were stocked these people paused to give thanks.
It is a curious yet understandable quirk of human psychology that the recognition of insecurity, providing we are not destitute, makes us grateful while constant overabundance of goods and apparent wealth leads to an unconscious attitude of entitlement. This, it seems, is unfortunate . Being thankful – that is being filled with appreciation that what one has is a gift, is almost synonymous with happiness. Grateful people appreciate others and are generous. They go forward in life with optimism, with confidence in the goodness that surrounds them. They are the people whose glass is half full, not half empty. Counting your blessings is good for your soul. Not everyone has it so good. Even here, in such a wealthy, prosperous time, there are families who suffer poverty, and in terms of the global, historical record, abundance is the exception, not the rule.
So this weekend, as we sit down to a glorious feast, with those loved ones who make our lives so rich and rewarding, we will stop and take time to be aware of the how good it is. We will teach our children to give thanks!